To the Editor:
Posters and e-mails around campus list a number of violent and intimidating actions under the heading “Hate Crimes on Campus.” Upon closer analysis, though, few of these incidents are actually hate crimes. True, a violent message against Muslims on a whiteboard is a hate crime, as is a threatening flier on the Afro-American Cultural Center door. On the other hand, spitting on an anti-war protester and taking down an inverted flag are not. In neither situation is anyone being singled out based on ethnicity; instead, these are violent (and even nonviolent) differences of opinion. Listing these actions under the heading “hate crimes,” then, is misleading at best and manipulative at worst.
Additionally, the description of one incident refers to “husky white males” as the ones who tore down a flag on Cross Campus. Designating those in question as large men implies that they physically intimidated students, which may be true. Using the label “white,” however, brings the issue of race into a situation where race pertains little, if at all.
No student on Yale’s campus should ever feel threatened, but students should recognize the difference between “hate crimes” based on race, religion or sexual orientation, and simple crimes of intimidation.
David Reiman ’05
April 11, 2003